by: Jared Bolton
Thursday, February 2, 2023 | 12:00 PM
Welcome to Quick Fill.
The time is really beginning to wind down as the official count is just 16 days until the start of the 2023 GNCC Racing season. This is the point where you really need to have your ducks in a row and ready to rock because time is absolutely going to fly by now. It’s also a very exciting time as getting back to racing is always really welcomed after a winter break where a lot of folks probably had very little or possibly even no seat time, unless you’re one of the lucky folks who get spend a lot of your winter riding. The rest of us envy you if so!
Now, even I have fallen into that “very little seat time” category as after last year’s season finale at Ironman I actually hadn’t rode a motorcycle other than a few circles around the block and that lack of seat time finally ended last weekend. I was lucky enough to make the trip to South Carolina for the Manchester Dual Sport ride that is put on by the Sumter Enduro Riders, who are actually getting geared up for the first round of the AMA National Enduro Series this weekend.
Their dual sport ride was epic as it was basically five of the six sections that the enduro will be running. Now, this disqualified all the dual sport attendees from racing the enduro because of that, so I’m actually missing Sumter this weekend and it will only be the second time in about 16 years that I haven’t been at Sumter. This was a plan from the get-go as a group of us from our office are headed to Houston for this weekend’s Supercross event for some various meetings and other good times. Then once we get back in the office next week things will be wide open as the first wave of our crew will be headed south at the end of the week. This is a pretty exciting time and we’re ready to get the season underway.
Now, speaking of the Sumter Enduro, this is always a really cool event as it’s the first look at a lot of racers for the first time in the new year. There will be a lot of people to keep an eye on as there are a lot of changes all over the place but the thing to remember about Sumter is that you shouldn’t judge the whole season off this one event. If you’ve never ridden the Sumter Enduro, it’s very tight and twisty single track through the South Carolina sand. Think about the tightest bike-only section we have at Camp Coker and make that about 60-miles long and that’s what Sumter is like.
Both the Baylor Brothers always really excel at Sumter as they grew up riding a lot of races like that as SETRA used to have some youth races either the weekend before, or the day before the Sumter Enduro and they’ve been riding the actual Sumter Enduro since they’ve been old enough. Interestingly enough, both of these guys are on new equipment coming into the 2023 season. For Stu, it’s a return to a familiar brand as he’s back on a KTM once again backed by Tely Energy and Rocky Mountain ATV/MC. Grant on the other hand is headed to uncharted territory for him as he’ll be racing aboard a Babbitt’s Kawasaki in 2023.
Grant was last year’s National Enduro champion, claiming the title ahead of Josh Toth who will also be on a new machine in 2023 as he’ll be aboard a GasGas riding with the Enduro Engineering folks. Stu actually ended the season in fourth place behind Ryder Lafferty, who was the only one of these top four guys to not change teams or machines. With all of these guys back, plus a healthy Ben Kelley and the likes of others such as Craig Delong, Ricky Russell (also on a new team) and Trevor Bollinger just to name a few, that Sumter Enduro event has potential to be a really, really good race.
As for the ATV crowd, there’s really not that one standout pre-season race that really gives a little teaser of everyone’s new look but the Florida Trail Riders series always has some big ATV names doing a little pre-season racing at one point or another. They were actually in action back on January 21 for the ATVs and as is the normal with those January FTR races, there were some big names giving it a go on the ATV side of things.
Hunter Hart jumped out to the lead early and would basically control the race from start to finish. Wyatt Wilkin held the second place spot for the early stages of the race, just around seven seconds behind on lap one, then Hart pulled out to a 46 second lead on the second lap. On lap three Jay Shadron would take over the second place spot with Cole Richardson right on his back door in third and Walker Fowler holding down the fourth place spot, also right on top of Richardson.
And that’s just about how they would finish with Hart taking the win over Shadron by just over one-minute while Shadron, Richardson and Fowler would finish second through fourth, respectively, all within a few seconds of each other. Chris Borich rounded out the top five and was actually the only other racer on the lead lap! While this was definitely an exciting race, it would’ve been even more exciting to add Brycen Neal into the mix but that guy is an ace at being really quiet leading into the season and just absolutely exploding at round one.
At the same time, Walker Fowler has a history of finishing around that third to fourth place spot at some of those FTR races before the GNCC season starts and then coming out just as strong as ever when the GNCC season begins. I believe he rides just smart enough at those races to get his seat time in and push just the right amount, but also not give it that extra edge that could get him hurt before the season begins. The guy is smart, what can I say?!
Well, that’s actually going to do it for this week’s edition of Quick Fill. I actually sat down and wrote this one early as I’ll be travelling to Houston on Thursday and have been wide open trying to get other things ready to go before the season begins. From cleaning and prepping a camper, to getting the new sweep bike ready (minus the graphics that I was unfortunately a little late sending the designs to our friends at HBD, sorry guys!) and also getting a new Yamaha Grizzly ready, and balancing all of that with some office-type work, it’s been a crazy week and a half here… And to think, guys like Ryan Echols, Zach Holbert and Colby Stiles are out in the garage doing that kind of stuff every single day.
Anyway, enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here next week for one final off-week edition of Quick Fill before the long awaited “pre-Big Buck edition” of Quick Fill the following week.