Welcome to Quick Fill.
Finally, it’s time to go racing once again. This weekend’s Tiger Run GNCC is already shaping up to be a great one. The return to the Big Buck Farm, site of the opening round of the season, is a bit of a unique change. We’ve visited the same venue twice in a single season more that once. Last year we had multiple rounds that were raced twice, and have a few more lined up for this season. On top of that, if you go way back in the history of the series, there were several seasons where places like Loretta Lynn’s, Big Bear and Fireball that were raced twice in one season.
However, this is likely the quickest turnaround between two events. The track crew has really put in a lot of work to make it as different as possible, and we’ll have a little info on the layout coming up later in this week’s edition of Quick Fill. But, to give an overall teaser, it feels a lot different than the first round this season. For one, it’s much more dry this time around. In fact, expect some dust here and there but I wouldn’t expect it to become one of those full-blown silt races like we’ve seen at Mason-Dixon. The ground is a bit hard-packed, but there’s some moisture to be found underneath the top layer of dirt here and there.
Obviously the places we rode the first time around haven’t magically gone back to the way they would look if we hadn’t been here in a year, or even six months. There’s been a lot of dozer work done to break up some of the spots that hardened up after they were dozed the first time this year. There’s also been a fair amount of grass that grew in the fields, so hopefully instead of bare dirt and mud like the first race, you’ll be pitted in some nice green grass Obviously it’s not all perfectly green and looking like a National Park, but the overwhelming majority of the parking area has nice green grass covering it!
Before I dive into the info on the track layout, we did get a piece of breaking news this week from Kailub Russell. As you’ve likely heard, KR is preparing to make a run at the Pro Motocross series this year as part of the Red Bull KTM team. Kailub was spending the week in California doing some testing and had a pretty hard crash at Pala, which is the site of the opening round of Pro Motocross. He ended up crashing into a fence, knocked himself out and was left with some broken ribs, broken jaw which is now wired shut and a bunch of cuts and bruises. Overall, he’s pretty lucky but that does mean that the early rounds of Pro Motocross are now in question for Kailub. You can read it from Kailub himself, plus a few photos in his Instagram post HERE. Heal up quick, KR!
Now, let’s talk about the track at Tiger Run, which as a reminder IS at Big Buck. Not sure why it’s still a rumor that the race is on a different piece of property? Anyway, you’ll be starting at the end of the lap. Heading into the woods you’ve got the section behind bike pro pits that we ran earlier in the year, which leads you by the 11-mile mark. From there, you’ll actually cut across to a different section we ran earlier this year and that will lead you near the big hill climb. You’ll actually turn away from this area and hit a new trail up through a section of pine trees.
This brings you across the road to the hill climb, past the 12-mile mark and into the finish line area. Off the start you’ll bypass the finish line and head back into a section of woods. You’ll pop in and out of the field and woods a couple of times as you work your way around the back parking areas. This eventually brings you to the one-mile mark where you’ll drop into the woods for a long time! From the one to the two is a mix of trail we used earlier in the year, and a few sections of existing trail that hasn’t been used in quite some time. It’s a little tighter and twistier in spots, which will help to slow down what is usually a faster course.
It starts to open up in a few spots after the two-mile mark before leading you to some tighter trail around the three-mile mark. From there, you’ll start working your way through some medium-speed trails with some really fun up and downhills all the way to the four-mile mark. After the four, you’ll drop into what we call the “Green Bottom” for the first time. There’s a pretty fun hillclimb out of the Green Bottom that leads you through some more flowing trail, then back downhill into the Green Bottom again. You’ll zigzag through some faster trails in that bottom before hitting the hardwoods once again at the five-mile mark.
From the five to the six is a lot of trail that either hasn’t been used in a number of years, or brand new trail all together. It’s got a few little dips to ride through, a pretty fun uphill and a good mix of faster and slower trail. After the six you’ll start transitioning to the other side of the property. At the seven-mile mark, you’ll hit a brand new trail for a bit that is off-camber and really fun before working through some more pine tree sections as you work your way to the eight-mile mark.
This is where things will feel completely different. At the eight-mile mark, you’ll actually come backwards from what is usually the easy line up the Big Buck Hillclimb. You’ll come to the hill and have the option to go straight up, or turn right for the go-around. This go-around is actually a lot longer than the usual one. In fact, it’s about 2/10ths of a mile longer than going straight up the hill. Once you’re up the hill, you’ll pick up a faster section before heading over to the Monster Mile. This will be a section that zigzags back and forth in a natural bowl before popping straight out and heading through some slower trails over to the nine-mile mark.
From the nine to the ten is a good bit of existing trail that we actually didn’t run at the first round. The ten will lead you into the ATV pro pits, and once back in the woods you’ll run a short section that hasn’t been used in quite a long time. I believe the last time we ran the trails in this section was probably somewhere around 2014 or 2015! You’ll then cross a small grass field, which leads you through the woods directly behind the start. The PM races will drop down into a valley next to the Monster Mile and have the option of another big hillclimb back out of the valley. Once you’re up the hill, you’ll head through some faster trail that will tie you back in at the start.
The full loop is just shy of 12.5 miles and is actually a really, really fun loop. Between dozing the trails we already used and putting in a lot of sections that are either old trails that haven’t been used in quite some time, or are new all together, really helped to make this feel like a totally different course than what we rode in February.
That’s going to do it for me this week, but Ken Hill has some words before we wrap up this edition of Quick Fill. Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you at Big Buck!
Catching Up With Ken (Ken Hill)
Well folks, I sit here watching the world go by via the Internet and it appears I will have to continue doing absolutely nothing for a few more days. I have been missing in action for the past several editions of Quick Fill as I do battle with this illness but that isn’t what’s going to keep me sidelined for the upcoming Tiger Run GNCC. A few fractured ribs, a broken sternum and a partially collapsed lung is the culprit as a result of being hit head on last Friday. I thought I was going to be ok but my wife and my doctors all begged me to just stay home, do nothing and rest. Usually that would make me snicker as I loaded up the truck because I work, that’s what I do. However, the pain from this nonsense says otherwise along with some common sense. I mean I can’t fully dress myself, nor tie my boots, heck I can’t even sleep laying down yet. The offers of help have been non-stop but I have to draw the line somewhere and my decision is for the best. So hopefully I will be down just a few more days before I start feeling some healing and can mend up before the next round!
Following along via social media helps but equally is disenfranchising as many of you have been in this very position before. Not sure why, maybe its the feeling of needing to be with such a large group that all shares so many things in common or the feeling of missing something. For me, it’s the work. I enjoy it and of course the people, so somewhere in all of that lays the reasoning we push well beyond what we should through injury or strife to just get to the races. I still don’t know why I checked myself out of ICU in Georgia but I do know I had to get to the race because I had family and friends there. Now that wasn’t a bright decision but I don’t remember even making it, I just know I needed to be there. Once there I realized what I had done and the danger I was in but when all else leaves you, one tends to fall back on home or a place we feel safe being. I reckon its weird for outsiders to grasp but I’m sure most of you get it.
The racing I did see at Camp Coker was pretty good in just about every class. That place is so deceptive and ends up sneaking up and tail whipping not just those unprepared for a gnarly course but even catches the series top talent off guard. I was listening to Cody Collier and Landon Wolfe discuss things as they pulled off the track and even though they had a vicious battle the chatter revolved around how rough things were. I think the 4x4 Pro class is exciting and at Coker it appeared that some good old fashioned “do the right thing” came into play as Landon and Cody had a few incidents that led to one stopping and helping the other. That really is telling of the character and class amongst our ranks.
The rest of the weekend was typical Coker, fun, camping, fishing and loaded with racing which all adds up to one great time. I even got even with a few big catfish Sunday night after everyone rolled out. The wife was there to make sure I didn’t croak and she had a blast catching some big fish and seeing everyone throughout the weekend. Walker Fowler nailed another win, Becca Sheets and Rachel Archer had a real battle on Sunday that was awesome to try and keep up with as Sheets came out the victor and then the exciting finish to another crazy Pro race. I was really looking for Josh Strang to stand tall and take the win however it was Stu Baylor stealing his thunder adding some of his dramatic flair to the end of the race! Just a great weekend all around.
Well I am going to cut it short here as I know Bolton has a ton of info about the race so as always, be safe in all you do and in your travels. And again, thank you for all the thoughts and prayers as they really do help! May the good Lord continue to bless us all, ride safe!