GNCC Racing

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Thursday, February 3, 2022 | 5:05 PM

Welcome to Quick Fill. 

The off-season begins to wind down as we’re now just a tick over two-weeks out from the beginning of the 2022 GNCC Racing season. This is the point where everyone starts that final push to get things ready whether it’s planning, or fitness, or getting the machine ready to race, everyone is out there counting down the days. Of course, are you counting down because you can’t wait to get back to racing? Are you counting because you’re in a last-minute rush to get everything ready to back to racing? Or are you counting down with a combination of both? More than likely, everyone can at least somewhat identify with that “combination of both” scenario. 

Our offices are abuzz not just with GNCC prep but also preparations for the Ricky Carmichael Amateur Supercross at Daytona as well. While most of our regular staff will be at Palatka for the Wild Boar instead, that event is ran by MX Sports (Racer Productions sister-company ran out of the same office by many of the same folks, for those who aren’t aware) so we’re also preparing for that event as well. Then of course on top of that, there are of course preparations underway for the Pro Motocross series, ATVMX series, Loretta Lynn’s and a number of other events all happening at once. 

Of course, all that still comes after the GNCC season kicks off at Big Buck, which is what most everyone reading this is looking forward to first. The start of a new season is always exciting as the opportunity to see everyone on new machines with new graphics and new gear is something that everyone really seems to enjoy. There will be plenty of new graphics and new gear floating around, but there really aren’t a ton of riders changing up their machinery. 

We’ve hit on this a few times throughout the off-season but we’ll do a quick recap of who is riding what in the new season, and we’ll start with the bike side since that seems to produce the most frequent changes. We’ll go down the list, according to 2021 points, rider by rider and then throw in a few extras at the bottom. As you read down through here, there’s going to be a pretty common theme. Let’s see if you can spot it. 

1 – Ben Kelley: There’s no change for Ben as he’s back with the FMF/KTM Factory Racing squad once again to defend his 2021 GNCC National Championship.

2 – Steward Baylor: No change for Stu either. He’s back with the AmPro Yamaha team which has propelled Stu to the best results he’s ever had in the series. Why mess with success?

3 – Jordan Ashburn: Jordan will once again be with the Magna1 Motorsports team aboard a Husqvarna sporting the number three.

4 – Josh Strang: The savvy Aussie veteran is back for his third year with the Babbitt’s Monster Energy Kawasaki team, and is still as fast as ever!

5 – Josh Toth: Another rider continuing with the same program as Toth returns aboard the FMF/KTM Factory Racing team.

6 – Grant Baylor: Grant’s deal is still the same, but the team itself actually changed. The KLM GasGas squad was sold late last season but they’re back with new owners and a new title sponsorship from Yuengling.
7 – Johnny Girroir: The 2021 XC2 class champ continues with the Coastal GasGas Factory Racing team as he begins his hunt for his second XC2 class title.

8 – Craig Delong: Craig is still with the Rockstar Factory Husqvarna team but will make the move to the XC1 class. Craig took the 2020 XC2 class championship and defended it in 2021 which pushes him to the XC1 class for 2022.

9 – Ricky Russell: Are you seeing the common them yet? Ricky Russell is back with Coastal GasGas Factory Racing as he looks to one again run up at the front of the XC1 class.

10 – Thad Duvall: Thad missed part of 2021 with an injury but returned with a few solid rides and a win in the season finale at Ironman. He’ll be, yes you guessed it, back with the Factory Husqvarna team. 

So, there is literally no change to the entire top ten overall. When you get to 11th, there’s still no change! You actually have to go all the way to 18th overall, Evan Smith, who also missed a number of races in 2021 before you ever find a rider who is making a change. Smith will transition from a privateer effort to the Factory Beta squad. He’ll also be joined by 2021 XC3 champion, Jonathan Johnson, who will jump back into the XC2 class. Jason Lipscomb finished fifth in the XC3 class in 2021 and will also join the Factory Beta team for 2022. 

Thorn Devlin, who was part of that Factory Beta team in 2021 moves to a Husqvarna backed by 760 Motorsports who supported Ben Nelko in 2021. Thorn was lightning fast on the XC2 starts and landed on the XC2 podium at Tiger Run and a change in pace might be just the boost he was looking for. As for Nelko, he’ll be aboard a Honda with support from Steel City Men’s Clinic. Nelko snagged an XC2 podium of his own at Snowshoe, and the same could be said for him; a simple change could be the exact boost he’s looking for. 

Transitioning to the ATV side sees a pretty similar story to the bike guys as there’s really not much change to talk about, or these guys have just been pretty quiet in the off-season as they prepare for the new year. 

1 – Walker Fowler: It’s business as usual for Walker as he’s still aboard a Yamaha with virtually all the same support. It’s worked for him for a number of years, so no reason to change it up!

2 – Hunter Hart: Hunter put together his best season to date in 2021 and other than a change from number seven to number two, it’s the same deal for Hunter.

3 – Jarrod McClure: The sneaky snake is a pretty quiet guy! There hasn’t been much out of him over the off-season other than a post of a bare frame that looks to be a Honda frame so chances are there’s no major changes.

4 – Cole Richardson: Cole has been hard at work riding down in Florida and has some sweet looking Yamahas set up for 2022. He’s getting support from Gettel Nissan out of Florida, which sounds to be a lifesaver to keep Cole on track.

5 – Adam McGill: He’s a guy I almost through about shooting a text to asking what his plans for 2022 were but I figured I’d just get a typical McGill reply with limited factual statements. Looking at social media, Adam is back to riding in Florida and is back on a Honda.

6 – Josh Merritt: Josh spent some time racing out west over the winter but the program looks to be just about the same as it has been. Similar to Hunter Hart, Merritt’s biggest change seems to be going from number eight to number six!

7 – Devon Feehan: Devon had a great 2021 season and landed on the podium three times. He’s been really quiet over the winter and actually hasn’t posted on Instagram since November! This could mean he’s up to big things keeping his head down getting ready to find his way onto the podium more often!

8 – John Glauda: He’s another guy that has been actively riding and getting ready for 2022 and doesn’t seem to have any real changes coming into the new year.

9 – Chris Borich: The International Man of Mystery! Many times Chris has kept things under wraps until he shows up at the track. After spending most of 2021 back on a Suzuki, he showed up on a Yamaha at Ironman and has been riding one down south lately. What will he show up to race? Your guess is as good as mine.

10 – Brycen Neal: Brycen had some really solid rides in 2021, winning three races and being Fowler’s biggest competitor. He ended up with a knee injury that took him out mid-season but is back and ready to go for 2022 as part of the Magna1 Motorsports squad, making him the ATV rider with the most notable change! 

So, there you have it! A little bit of info on what to expect out of some of the top talent when things get rolling at Big Buck in just a few weeks. While there’s very, very few changes don’t let that fool you! A lot of guys are really on top of their game right now and the battles for both the ATV and bike National Championships really could be some of the best we’ve ever seen. 

That’s actually going to do it for this week’s edition of Quick Fill. Even with this threat of winter weather up north, there’s a lot of folks headed south this weekend for some riding or racing. Whatever you’re doing, enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here next week!

Random Photo of the Week

Davey Coombs dropped this on my desk this week. This was Tommy Norton's press kit from 1993 and it's chocked full of goodies. If you're not familiar, Tommy was the only rider to ever win the Blackwater 100 aboard a 125cc motorcycle, which he did as a relatively unknown KTM rider in 1990.

He rode the KTM again with some support from KTM in 1991 and landed a ride with Team Mirage in 1992. Team Mirage came from the folks who started the Ninja Turtles, which is where Tommy's sweet Ninja Turtle graphics came from. 

Tommy Norton's 1993 Press Kit Jared Bolton